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Protecting Construction Worker Health and Safety in Ontario, Canada: Identifying a Union Safety Effect

Amick, Benjamin C. III PhD; Hogg-Johnson, Sheilah PhD; Latour-Villamil, Desiree MS; Saunders, Ron PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: December 2015 - Volume 57 - Issue 12 - p 1337–1342
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000562
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Objectives: Do Ontario unionized construction firms have lower workers’ compensation claims rates compared with nonunion firms?

Methods: Building trade and construction trade association lists of union contractors were linked to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims data for 2006 to 2012. Data were pooled for 2006 to 2012, and negative binomial regressions conducted with adjustment to estimate a union safety effect.

Results: The sample included 5797 unionized and 38,626 nonunion construction firms. Total claims rates were 13% higher (1.13, 1.09 to 1.18) in unionized firms because of higher allowed no-lost-time claim rates (1.28, 1.23 to 1.34), whereas the lost-time claims rate was 14% lower (0.86, 0.82 to 0.91).

Conclusions: Unionized construction firms compared with nonunion firms have higher no-lost-time and lower lost-time claims rates. Unionized firms may encourage occupational injury reporting and reduce risks through training and hazard identification and control strategies.

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Department of Health Policy and Management (Dr Amick), Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, Florida International University, Miami; Institute for Work & Health (Dr Amick, Dr Hogg-Johnson, Ms Latour-Villamil, Dr Saunders); Dalla Lana School of Public Health (Dr Hogg-Johnson); and School of Public Policy and Governance (Dr Saunders), University of Toronto, Canada.

Address correspondence to: Benjamin C. Amick III, PhD, Chair and Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8 St, AHC 5-453, Miami, FL 33199 (

This research was funded by a grant from the Ontario Construction Secretariat to the Institute for Work & Health.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright © 2015 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine